The game of chess from Musae Rhetorices Hactenus, o socii, memorastis carmine ludos / Qui noceant studiis, & quos bonus odit Apollo, Castalidesque vetant... Thus far, companions, you have celebrated in song games which are harmful to studies, and which good Apollo despises and the Muses forbid. I want to describe a game that is so like study that I am in doubt whether to call it play or study. The mind is refreshed by it, and nourished at the same time; each player thinks; pleasure laced with labour delights on both sides. On this side, the party of the Muses loves to play it, on the other, the students of Mars. It presents ﬁctional troops and the models of war.
Imago Primi Saeculi Societatis Jesu (Antwerp, 1640)
Rubens, Massacre of the Innocents (1611-12) Rubens, Massacre of the Innocents 1611-12 (Art Gallery of Ontario)
Philip William, Elector Palatine (1615-1690), seven-year-old dedicatee of Jacob Bidermann’s Herodiados libri iii (1622)
By Stephanus Biro, Pierre Bimet, or by the schoolboys of Cluj/ Klausenburg? By Antonius Vorster, Stephanus Biro? Or by the Viennese Poetry and Rhetoric class?
Perlege: nec pudeat juvenem legisse Poëtam, / Utilia, & Juvenes saepius, arma damus. ‘Read: and don’t be ashamed to have read a juvenile Poet. We youths quite often furnish useful weapons too. I admit Apollo hasn’t sneezed on me yet, and I am younger than the advice I have given. But approach nonetheless, just have a look! The orders I have written down have been dug out of ancient mothballs – dug out, but what an unholy labour that was for me! Believe me, writing this poem was a greater work!’
‘We write how free-born friends may be joined by art: favour our enterprise, kind Phoebus, with art, the ornament of things; with art comrades are sought, with art distinction is attained, with art, love. … Thus art renders souls friendly (who were not) and compels two hearts into one.’
‘And how small a part of art is it to paint breathing forms? And yet how much beauty is given to them by art? Look at Jesus about to die on the painter’s canvas: does the burden not almost seem to hang from the cross? If you see tears, which this image counterfeits [mentitur], you will not be able to refrain from tears yourself, but will cry! You see, and Christ himself weeps, and a wooden form [lignea forma] suffers a death in art [artificem … necem]! If you add a voice to the picture, soon it will speak. Thus the dying GOD lives on in art.’
Laus animos, animi, castos amor excitat ignes, Laus mel, sed secum spicula amor. Quae tamen infligunt haec dulcia spicula, grata Ut puto, plus laudis, vulnera melle placent ‘Praise kindles spirits, love the chaste fires of the soul. Praise is the honey but also the goad of love. But the wounds which these sweet goads inflict are pleasing, I think; the wounds of praise please more than honey.’ Blanditias simul illa tuas, imitataque amantum Verba ferat, socio chara futura tuo. Scripta animos rapiunt, blande qui scribere novit, Ille sibi multos conciliare potest. Littera Cydippen pomo perlata fefellit Inscia verbis est capta puella suis ‘ At the same time your letter should bear your blandishments, and words that imitate those of lovers, which will be dear to your friend. Writings ravish hearts, and he who knows how to write smoothly is able to win many over. A letter borne on an apple fooled Cydippe, the girl was caught unawares by its words.’ The erotics of friendship
Ending a friendship is a serious matter … Si pactam Medea tibi servasset Jason, Quae nulla fuerat parte nociva, fidem: Aesoniden fueras natorum sanguine nunquam, Nec proprii partu visceris, ulta virum. Non fateor (nam mater eras, non Tygris, & ursa) Mactasses natos una noverca duos. At quia, quod dederat, pactum violavit Iason, Pro uno (quod fecit) crimine, bina tulit.
Remember to say ‘hi’ and ‘bye’ to your friends! Let your pure love be like the sun radiating the stars, your friends.
If a senseless status can be animated by Promethean fire, imagine what a friendly flame can inspire in pious peers? Avoid the Scylla and Charybdis of wicked companions, or else you will founder under the weight of your sins …